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A talk with the Park
Backstage in Portugal, nu-metal boundary-breakers Linkin Park chat about Barack Obama, the Iraq war and their debt to - yes, really - Jean-Paul Sartre
Olaf Tyaransen, 01 Jul 2008
Backstage at Lisbon’s misleadingly named Rock In Rio Festival, an eagle-eyed member of Linkin Park’s road crew offers your Hot Press correspondents a word of advice as we stagger elegantly towards the band’s dressing-room.
“Hey dudes! Don’t walk over there with those drinks in your hands. Chester and Dave don’t touch alcohol and they don’t like talking to people who’re drinking.”
A clean-living nu-metal band? Shome mishtake shurely? Then again, they are based in freakily health-conscious Southern California. Drinks discreetly ditched, myself and photographer Graham Keogh go over and introduce ourselves to the teetotalitarianist rockers.
Sitting behind a long table, vocalist Chester Bennington and red-bearded guitarist Dave Farrell look remarkably relaxed for a couple of guys who’ll be playing to a crowd of almost 100,000 Portuguese fans in a little over an hour (in honour of whom Dave is wearing the national team’s football scarf). Their four bandmates are mingling with members of Muse and Metallica nearby, watching The Offspring’s charged set on a massive flatscreen TV.
As festival headliners, Linkin Park will be onstage at 1am sharp. Needless to say, their interview time is extremely limited. Having sold fifty million albums, won two Grammys, collaborated with Jay-Z and many others, there’s plenty of ground to cover. But seeing as it’s now 11.45pm (Minutes To Midnight being the title of their most recent studio album) and tomorrow’s the day that Hilary Clinton will officially concede to Barack Obama, it’s decided that the quarter hour we’ve been allocated would be better spent discussing the US presidential race.
So where do the band stand politically?
“You know, everyone’s very different in the band,” Dave explains. “I personally never thought in my lifetime that I would witness an African-American win a primary for a major party, and really have a chance to become president. But it’s hard for me to endorse one of them, because I really don’t know how I feel about either one. I think I’m more excited about the idea of Barack Obama than I am about the chance that a woman could actually be president. Simply because it seems almost impossible. Just growing up in the States and knowing our history, it’s going to be a really interesting thing to see.